May 24, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Join us for the Produce Industry’s Most Powerful Public Policy Event!

Registration is officially open for United's Washington Public Policy Conference, October 1-3! The annual conference is the ONLY event where the entire fresh produce industry unites to make a real difference on produce industry priorities and help ensure a more profitable future. With produce industry leaders and our nation’s policymakers all in one place, the event amplifies the industry’s voice on issues such as food safety, farm labor, nutrition and consumption and the 2012 Farm Bill.

This year, the event features two days of strategic, face-to-face meetings with lawmakers and their staffs. Attendees will also hear from key administration officials and participate in candid and constructive dialogue with the president’s executive team. Market segment education sessions will also provide industry stakeholders the opportunity to evaluate progress made on priority issues. Don’t miss the United FreshPAC Dinner, with breathtaking views from Charlie Palmer’s Steakhouse rooftop terrace. United will also welcome former senator and top political observer Fred Thompson to deliver the closing keynote address with an insider’s look at the campaign process and the pivotal 2012 elections. 

Produce industry leaders march on Capitol Hill at the Washington Public Policy Conference.

“Visits with congressional offices are an especially important part of the Washington Public Policy Conference. The opportunity to share the industry’s perspective face-to-face with lawmakers is extremely valuable, especially when that message comes from a constituent,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy. “We’re looking forward to the real impact we’ll have this year, especially with the Farm Bill making its way through the Senate and House.”

Be part of the excitement at one of our beautiful conference hotels – The Hyatt Regency Washington or The Liaison Hotel Capitol Hill. Feel the energy that comes from being in the heart of Washington: walk to the Smithsonian and the National Mall, tour government centers, experience monuments and historical landmarks - all just minutes from our Capitol Hill hotels.

Register for the Washington Public Policy Conference before June 15th and receive $100 off!

For more information, visit the Washington Public Policy website, or contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.

DRC Board Meeting Focuses on Path Forward

The Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC) Board of Directors met in Halifax, Nova Scotia this week to discuss a strategic roadmap for the next 5 years. The DRC, established 12 years ago, is a private, non-profit organization of produce and transportation companies with a reputation for promoting fair, ethical and efficient trading practices for fresh produce within the three North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries. United Fresh was one of the founding organizations of the DRC. Beyond enforceable dispute resolution, the corporation also offers resources for the industry, such as commodity references and seminars on handling disputes.

“The DRC is a valuable and critical industry leader for US, Canadian and Mexican produce companies related to arbitration disputes for fresh produce,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh and DRC board member. Since its inception, the DRC mediation and arbitration service has helped DRC members resolve almost 1,300 disputes covering transactions with an estimated value of approximately $32 million dollars. “This week’s board discussions focused on continuing to build on the corporation’s many successes and on addressing the most critical questions, issues and challenges that the DRC must address over the next several years as it maintains its position as a legitimate dispute resolution option for NAFTA countries and other countries that do business with us,” said Guenther. 

For more information about the DRC please visit their website at:  http://www.fvdrc.com/

Study Finds Fruits and Vegetables Are Affordable Options for Healthy Eating

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) released a report last week that concluded healthy foods are not necessarily more expensive than those foods high in saturated fats, sugars and sodium. The report, “Are Healthy Foods More Expensive? It Depends On How You Measure the Price” explores the relationship between how food cost is measured and their nutritional value. Fruits and vegetables, the report concludes, are not as expensive when measured by price per average portion.

The assumption that the amount of fruits and vegetables needed to meet the Dietary Guidelines is not affordable stems from previous studies based on price per calorie. The report’s co-author, Andrea Carlson, demonstrated that how the price of food is measured is a major determinant in how expensive the food is. She estimated the cost using a more balanced assessment, looking at more than 4,000 food items by analyzing price per average portion consumed and price per edible gram.

When measured based on price per calorie, fruits and vegetables, which are lower in calories, tend to be expensive. However, when measured on the basis of average portion size, grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy foods are less expensive than most protein foods and less healthy foods.

“This report affirms that fruits and vegetables are a great value, and by making wise food choices, Americans can ‘Make Half Their Plate Fruits and Vegetables’”, said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United’s vice president of nutrition & health. “With a wide variety of fresh produce options available at all price points, fruits and vegetables are affordable, healthy and delicious options for everyone.”

The full ERS report can be read here.

Technical Working Group to Review Harmonized Standards in June

The Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Technical Working Group (TWG) will convene at Costco headquarters on June 5 to hear an update and review recommendations for changes to the Harmonized Standards. The meeting is the first since the TWG finalized the Field Operations and Harvesting standards in July 2011, and is the only TWG meeting scheduled for this year.

“There has been a lot of activity on the harmonized standards in the past year, and a lot of important produce buyers who are saying that they endorse audits using the harmonized standards,” said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president food safety & technology. “The TWG will review several recommendations for changes to the Field Operations standards, and we plan to finalize the Post-harvest Operations standards, thanks to USDA, whose auditors have performed over a dozen audits using the draft standards. The Technical Working Group remains an open-invitation, all-industry group, responsible for making sure the standards remain relevant and representing the best science available for all fresh produce commodities, regions and size operations.”

The TWG meeting will be followed on June 6 and 7 by the first official Train-the-Trainer workshop, sponsored by Costco, Northwest Horticultural Council and NCSI Americas, for auditors and companies who plan to use the harmonized standards. Anyone who wants to attend and participate in either meeting should contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3402 for more information.

Fresh Impact Magazine Advertising Now Available

Fresh Impact Magazine is the annual United Fresh publication that gives the industry an update on the latest policy issues and association activities. Advertising space is available in the upcoming issue of Fresh Impact, which will be sent to thousands of produce companies and distributed at the 2012 Washington Public Policy Conference. The issue will include in-depth information in preparation for the produce industry’s most powerful public policy event, including success stories from industry members on pressing produce policy issues like nutrition, food safety, immigration and labor.

Flip through last year’s Fresh Impact Magazine to see why the issue was a hit! For more information, please click here or contact John Toner, vice president of convention & industry relations, at 202-303-3424.

United Fresh 2012 Education Presentations and Show Highlights Online

United Fresh 2012 brought together the fresh produce industry’s thought leaders for customized education sessions and knowledge exchange. With more than 30 hours of education offered in market segment workshops, the FreshTech Learning Center and the Fresh Marketplace Learning Center, we’ve made many of the presentations available online for your reference. To access these valuable learning tools, please click here. The presentations are available to members only, username and password are required for access.

What question does one Retail Produce Manager Award winner ask shoppers that boosts sales? Tune in to United Fresh TV to hear his strategy for triggering purchases and other secrets from the 2012 Retail Produce Manager Award winners. See highlights from colorful booths on the show floor, with exclusive exhibitor interviews. Don’t miss the donation of salad bars to 100 Texas schools and the United Fresh Annual Video. Be sure to flip through the United Fresh 2012 photo gallery for highlights from our networking events and general sessions!

United Attends Opening of New IFCO Facility

Vancouver, Washington Pro Tem Mayor Larry Smith (R) congratulates IFCO’s President and GM of North America, Fred Heptinstall, on the opening of IFCO’s fifth RPC service center. IFCO has hired more than 100 employees, many coming from Vancouver, WA to Portland.

IFCO Systems US celebrated the grand opening of its newest reusable plastic container (RPC) Service Center in Portland yesterday. The new facility is IFCO’s fifth U.S. service center, extending the company’s network in North America in support of the continued expansion of RPC use by leading grocery retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The 85,000 square foot facility washes over 40,000 RPCs per day, and ships and receives approximately 25-40 truckloads of RPCs daily for IFCO’s grocery retail partners and grower shipper customers. To meet the demand in the Northwest, IFCO’s Portland service center is expected to employ over 100 employees.

United’s Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management, attended the event and is encouraged by the industry’s adoption of reusable plastic containers. “The reusable business model suits the produce industry well. The growing use of reusable plastic containers to transport fresh produce from the growers to the retailers highlights how inventive, progressive and fast-paced the supply chain has become,” he said.

For more information, please contact Dan Vaché at 425-629-6271.

PTI Discussion Group Brings Industry Together to Move Forward

The Produce Traceability Initiative aims to achieve supply chain-wide adoption of electronic traceability of every case of produce by the year 2012.

Don’t miss out on fresh produce industry stakeholders’ discussions on the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI). The PTI LinkedIn group facilitates productive discussions about the initiative, its objectives, milestones, best-practice recommendations, and related issues affecting the produce industry. The group is open to all, with the aim to share questions, stories and ideas on industry progress towards achieving the PTI mission: supply chain-wide adoption of electronic traceability for every case of produce by the end of 2012. Login to see discussions on the PTI survey results, the relationship between traceability and buying local food and much more!

The PTI website is also offering several new resources. An updated PTI Checklist for Growers/Packers/Shippers is now available, as well as a PTI Checklist for Receivers and an updated Best Practice for Private Label/Brand.

Upcoming United Fresh Events

Join us for events designed to grow your business.

GAPs Harmonization Auditor Training
June 6-7, Costco Headquarters, Issaquah, WA

Produce Inspection Training Program
September 10-14, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA

Washington Public Policy Conference
October 1-3, Washington, DC